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Gift of Wine

December 2, 2018

Happy Holiday Season Leschi! Giving the gift of wine can be equally as fun for the gift giver as it is for the recipient. When choosing a bottle of wine (or two) to gift, keep a few basic ideas in mind. Know what they tend to like, and have a rough estimate of what you would like to spend. Many great wines can be found across all ranges of price points. When in doubt, ask an expert, like US! Leschi Market will be well staffed with wine experts throughout the month to assist you with all of your wine questions.


One of my first holiday seasons at the Market, I heard a comment that I will never forget: “Giving wine just seems so last minute.” We have discussed the art of gift giving many times before. As we embark on the biggest gifting season of the year, let me offer some ideas on putting a little meaning behind those gifts. Trust me, in general, everyone loves to receive wine as a gift and if you put just a tiny amount of thought into it, it won’t seem so last minute at all.


We’ve explored several options in the past of theme based wine gifts. These definitely show some amount of thought was taken into account. They are just as fun to assemble, as they are to receive. All you need to do is choose your price point and choose your theme. Here are some of my favorites from over the years.


For the bicyclist on the list, for example, a “Tour de France” package can include a wine from several different regions in France: Alsace, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Chateauneuf du Pape, Gascogne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, and Rhône are great starting points. These regions are so diverse themselves that you could easily choose a few wines from within each region.


“Around the World” packages are great for those fresh off a journey, or for those about to embark on one in the coming year. Focusing on one country, or several, is easy enough to do. Rieslings from Germany, Barberas from Italy, Tempranillos from Spain, Cabernet Sauvignons from South Africa, Malbecs from Argentina or Carmeneres from Chile.


Domestic sets can be great too. Walla Walla, Yakima, Columbia Valley, Willamette Valley and Napa all provide great themed packages. The possibilities and spin-offs are endless. From an “Italian Getaway,” to an all organic grouping, from all under $10 wine, to an all animal themed label, use your imagination and creativity, and most of all, have fun with it.


This brings me to Champagnes and Ports. These are ultimate gift wines, if not for the sole fact that people rarely buy them for themselves. Who knows why, but I’ve seen the trend that we tend to put off splurging for these special wines for ourselves, yet are ecstatic when we are gifted them. When in doubt, look to the Port and Champagne sections. Many of these wines are discounted during holiday months, and great finds can be had for under $30. Vintage Champagnes and Vintage Ports are more expensive and harder to find, however “Colheita” Ports (years of ports not designated as “vintage”) can be found for a lesser dollar amount and for nearly every year; a great idea when trying to match birth years, anniversary years, and other significant dates in one’s life.


Finally, let’s conclude with highly sought after wines that are in limited supply. Collectors, cellar builders and new winos alike will appreciate getting their hands on some of these rarities!


2013 Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla

($112) 96-points, Wine Advocate


2015 Dominus Napanook Vineyard Red Napa Valley

($67) 96-points, James Suckling


2013 Produttori del Barbaresco ‘Rabaja’ Barbaresco Riserva

($58) 96-points, Wine Spectator, Top-100 #13


Pol Roger Brut Champagne Reserve

($45) 93-points, Decanter


2016 Lingua Franca ‘Avni’ Chardonnay Willamette Valley

($40) 93-points, Wine Spectator


2016 Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf du Pape

375 ml ($38) 95-points, Wine Spectator, Top-100 #8


2013 Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva

($28) 95-points, Wine Spectator, Top-100 #11


Are you still unsure what gift to give the wine lover on your list? One of my favorite reminders is that accessories like wine glasses and decanters rarely need a gift receipt! Have a safe and memorable holiday season and we’ll see you next year!




Kenneth Benner, a Seattle area native, is a trained chef and has worked in such restaurants as Barbacoa, B.O.K.A. Kitchen + Bar, and Dahlia Lounge. Ken is the wine buyer at Leschi Market. He has a passion for learning, a meticulous palate, and a tenacity for searching out the best for his customers while offering some of the most highly coveted wines in the area. His wine column is intended to inspire and explore new choices in wine, learn about wine with his readers, and share his knowledge and experiences in the wine world. Check out the latest at or request to be added to email updates or send questions, comments, or suggestions to and follow the wine department directly on twitter at

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